Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro couldn’t find someone to braid her hair.
She was 17 at the time and had recently moved from Nigeria to Canada to attend boarding school. Chioma was used to being away from her friends and family, having gone to boarding school in Lagos, but there were obstacles. It was cold. The locals ate strange food (mashed potatoes?). And, to top it all off, the hair problem.
“I was moving from Lagos, Nigeria, where there’s an abundance of people that can do your hair, where you can get food that you know and are used to. It was hard to find these things in Canada,” she explains. “If I discovered someone that could braid hair, I felt I had to share her contact with my African friends here. We were all looking,” she adds with a laugh.
Chioma carried this mentality with her over the next decade — through university, becoming a CPA and launching her career — until an opportunity arose to put it into action. She had created a support network for young professional women, The Winning Circle, in 2015, and it had blossomed to over 30 members. The group would invite each other to events, share content and help each other land promotions and new jobs.
“One day, a friend of mine sent me an article about this girl doing incredible work in the States around African fashion,” says Chioma. “I thought:
I thought: Wait a second, why hasn’t anybody created a hub where people can find African businesses and events like this in their community, like how we’re sharing them in The Winning Circle?
Chioma turned that question into an answer: My African Corner. Launched in 2017, My African Corner is an online platform for sharing businesses, events, and positive content about people of African descent. Users can also find resources and tools to start and grow their own businesses. The goal, she says, is to expand the platform’s offerings to cities across the world, so any person of African descent can find content specific to them.
A self-described “woman of many businesses”, Chioma has spun her platform’s purpose into another career, growth consulting, where she helps smaller companies, creatives
With so much drive and initiative, Chioma was a perfect fit for CPA Ontario’s Emerging Leader advisory group. We sat down with her to learn more about her drive to connect others, changing the perception of people of African descent and her keys to leadership.